APU system are getting popular, Small form factor system are also getting popular so why not doing a small form factor APU build? Welcome to our BitFenix Colossus Mini mITX - APU Build Guide. In this 7 step guide, we will show you how to build an APU system in the Colossus Mini mITX chassis. We will give you couple tips and tricks and finally we will give you the necessary tools to test your system.
- Step 1: Choose the components
- Step 2: Prepare the case
- Step 3: Install components on the motherboard outside of the case
- Step 4: Install motherboard into the case
- Step 5: Connect system cables
- Step 6: Boot system for first time
- Step 7: Test the system
Step 1: Choose the components
Despite its small size, the Colossus Mini mITX offers many possibilities and that make it perfect for our APU Build Guide. But there is couple little things to keep in mind when building in the Colossus Mini. First, the motherboard size, this case accept only Mini-ITX motherboard, BitFenix also offers a Micro-ATX version but today we are using the mITX. We are using the ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+ motherboard with the new AMD Kaveri processor, the A10-7850K. We are also using the Corsair Vengeance Pro-Red 2x4gb 2400mhz memory kit.
For the power supply, you may choose a standard PS2 ATX (dimensions of 5.9"(W) x 3.4"(H) X 5.5"(L); 150mm(W) x 86mm(H) x 140mm(L)). For this guide we are using a SFX power supply, which is the Silverstone ST45SF-G. While it is a bit more expensive than a standard 450w power supply, it is much smaller and also fully modular, it will give us a bit more space and will help for our cable management. It's always a good idea to verify how many watt your system require before buying your power supply, a PSU calculator will hep you for this.
For the CPU Cooler, you may choose between a vast majority of CPU coolers available on the market. There is about 175mm of clearance inside the mini. We used a Prolimatech Samuel 17 CPU Cooler with a Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 12 120mm fans, which is low-profile, but you could install a very big heatsink without problem since we are not using a GPU in this build. If you think you could possibly upgrade your system in the future and add a GPU to boost performance in game, plan ahead and buy a CPU cooler that will allow you to upgrade later. The Colossus Mini mITX is also a great case for liquid cooling, you can install a 240mm radiator on the top or a 120/140mm in the back of the case, but again plan carefully and make sure you have enough room for your components.
Case Fans: Here again, the Colossus Mini offers a lot of choices. You can install two 120mm on the top, which we did in this guide and we used the BitFenix Spectre Pro LED - Red.
The chassis comes with two fans already installed. One 120mm in the front as intake and one 120mm fan in the back as exhaust. You can change the fan in the back and use a 140mm fan if you wish, we used a Prolimatech Ultra sleek Vortex 14 140mm. For the front, you may install two 120mm or one 140,180,200 or even 230mm fan.
SSD and HDD: Again, Since we are building an APU system, we do not need a graphic card and we can keep all the drive cages in so you may install as much as six 3.5'' or 2.5'' drive. Different configuration will allow more or less hard drive space. We are using one SSD which is a Corsair Force Series GS 128GB and one Hard Drive, which is a Western Digital Slim 250GB.
That said, here are the components we have selected for this build guide, mostly what we had available from our stash.
Case: BitFenix Colossus Mini mITX
CPU: AMD A10-7850K
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+
RAM: Corsair Vengeance Pro-Red 2x4gb 2400mhz
CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Samuel 17
PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-G
PSU Cables: SilverStone PP05-E Flat Flexible Short Cable Set
SSD: Corsair Force Series GS 128GB
HDD: Western Digital Slim Drive 250GB
Case Fans: BitFenix Spectre Pro LED -Red x2 and Prolimatech Ultra sleek Vortex 14
Pro tips: If you are unsure about the compatibility of your components, http://pcpartpicker.com/ will definitely help you.
Step 2: Prepare the case
Alright, now that you have selected your components, it's time to build! You will need a Phillips screwdriver, a small plastic bin to put your screws and other small parts into and an Antistatic Wrist Band if possible. Remember, everything has an order. Before we start, make sure you have grounded yourself by touching some metal part of the case if you don't use an Antistatic Wrist Band.
First step is preparing the case, you want to get your case ready for the installation. Remove both sides panels off of the case, and start determining how to route your case wires for cable management. You can install the Rear I/O Panel included with your motherboard now.
Install power supply:
You can also install the power supply now, it will not annoy you much during the installation of the motherboard and you will be able to start planning cable management. To do it, simply unscrew the PSU bracket, Screw it to your power supply using the screw offered with the unit and then screw back the bracket on the case using the four thumbscrew.
Install hard drive:
Thanks to the BitFenix Colossus Mini design, the hard drive or solid state drive installation is actually very simple. You can also install them right now since we won't put them in the case yet. First, pull out the drive cages and flip the slot, Use the appropriate screws included with the case or the drive and screw it in each corner. Repeat if you have more than one drive.
Install Case Fans:
You may also want to install your case fan now while there's nothing in the case, so if you want to add fan on the top or change the fan on the back, it's time to do it! Route the cables toward the motherboard tray. BitFenix include one cable clip in the accessories box, i usually use it here.
Remove the hard drive bays:
Alright, last little step for the case preparation, remove the hard drive bays so you have much more room to work with. Trust me, you will need this space once we install the motherboard. Removing the upper cage is easy, just pull it out. But the lower cage is a bit more complicated, there are six screws under the case, two of them are under the case feet, so remove the front case feet and the six screws, i really suggest doing it because it will give you the room you need to route all your power supply cables.
Pro tips: While the lower drive cage is removed, reinstall the case feet so the case is stable and easier to work with.
Step 3: Install components on the motherboard outside of the case
Note: Remember from this step to ground yourself by touching the metal of the case!
Installing a CPU can be tricky if it's your first time, remember it's easy to mess up so take your time, double-check, read instruction if you need to. Make sure the little golden arrow on the CPU is aligned with the little arrow on the socket and then you can close the hinge. That's it.
Installing RAM is the one of the easiest part of the build, just make sure they are in the right position and push it gently. The tabs on the sides of the module bank should secure the memory module automatically. You will quickly know if they are not in the right position and you won't be able to push them down anyway.
Install Heat Sink:
Every heatsink installation is different, just make sure you follow product install direction and you will be more than fine! Don't forget to apply your thermal paste. If you are unsure about the installation of your CPU cooler, you can always ask the community here on the forums, they will be more than happy to help you figure it out! For our part, the installation of the Prolimatech Samuel 17 has been super easy, one of the easiest cpu cooler installation we had the chance to do. Don't forget to connect your CPU fan on the motherboard.
Step 4: Install motherboard into the case
Time to actually put the motherboard in the case, The BitFenix Colossus Mini comes with pre assembled standoffs, so you just need to line up the motherboard with the Rear I/O panel. Screw it with the appropriate screws and tighten them down until the board is secured to the case. At this step, you know why we removed the drive cages. You can put them back in once your motherboard is installed or you can wait until you connected your cables on the motherboard.
Step 5: Connect cables
Before connecting cables, route the power supply cables through the case for proper cable management. Unlike the BitFenix Prodigy or the BitFenix Phenom, the Colossus Mini has a larger cutout to route the cables and we are going to use it. You can route almost all your cables and hide the extra here. Use zip-tie if you need them!
Motherboard 24 pin Power Cable:
Plug the 24pin power supply cable in the motherboard and route it properly for cable management. Make sure it's plugged all the way in.
Motherboard 4-pin/8-pin Power Cable:
Same thing as the 24pin, plug it in the motherboard and route it properly for cable management. Again, Make sure it's plugged all the way in.
Hard Drive Cable:
If you are only using two drive like us, then it's up to you where you want to put your hard drive in the cage, some position will allow more cable management while other will be terrible, so try couple position and choose the best for you. If you have more than two hard drive, go with what your cables allow you to do.
Case lighting and fan splitter:
In this build, we used a total of 4 case fans + the fan on our CPU cooler. Unfortunately, our motherboard don't give as many fan connector so we used a fan splitter. If you are unsure about the location of your fan connector on your motherboard, review your manual, all the information you will need is usually in the first couple pages. At this step, we also take the time to connect the lighting system of the Colossus Mini, which is powered by a single SATA cable.
Cable management will help your airflow inside the chassis, but not only that, your system will look much prettier! Use Zip-tie, they are cheap and easy to use. Once your cables has been tidied and the extra has been hidden, it should look similar to this:
Step 6: Boot the system for first time
Before booting the system for the first time, it's always a good idea to double-check everything, make sure every cables is plugged properly. Make sure there is no cables touching fans blade.
Press the power button on the case to start the system up and access the BIOS so you can review and make changes if you need to. Some motherboard will allow you to see the temperature of your components in the BIOS, you can watch it and notice now if something is wrong. Your CPU should be idling between 20c and 40c, but this is different for every processor and every cpu coolers.
The ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+ motherboard booted with the Kaveri A10-7850 without having to update the BIOS. But we had to update the BIOS to be able to run our memory at 2400mhz. To do it, you can use the ASRock Instant Flash software. I'm not going in-depth here because that alone would make another guide so if you need help for this step, simply google it and you fill find thousand guides for it.
Step 7: Test the system
Of course before being able to test your system, you will need to install an OS and the drivers for your components. You can use the disc that cames with your motherboard and install the Internet drivers, then you can go on the manufacturer website of your motherboard and download the latest drivers.
Testing the system is rather important, Run Prime95’s Blend Test for at least one hour and use one of the following programs to monitor your temps; Real Temp, SpeedFan or Core Temp. This will help you determine if your system is running too hot and or if your system is unstable. You can also run Futuremark's benchmark to see how your new build compares to similar systems.
Here a the download links for the above programs:
Real Temp Currently do mot support New Kaveri AMD A10-7850k
CPUID Hardware Monitor Pro
If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and we will answer with the best of our knowledge! If you have a suggestion, feel free to share with us as we might add couple little things over time.
If you are interested about the Colossus Mini, i also reviewed it, you can read it here http://www.sff-tek.com/bitfenix-colossus-mini-mitx-review/
Thanks for reading our guide!
Edited by SFF-Tek - 4/12/14 at 2:04pm